Cordyline Red Star Dracaena Care: What Is Cordyline?
The name “cordyline” comes from the fact that it resembles a spider web. It is actually a species of dracaena called Dracaena sanderiana. The genus name means “spider web”. They are very popular houseplants because they have nice colors and attractive foliage. Most of them grow well indoors, but some do not like bright light or hot temperatures.
Dracaena sanderiana is native to tropical and subtropical regions of South America. They are found in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. The species was introduced into North America in the early 1900’s where it became established in Florida. It spread throughout the United States and Canada before being eradicated from most areas due to invasive pests such as scale insects (which eat their leaves).
They are now known to be invasive in many other parts of the world including Australia, New Zealand, India and China. There is no natural control for these plants so they must be controlled with pesticides. These plants can cause problems if grown outdoors in warm climates. They will tolerate a wide range of soil types and conditions, but they prefer moist soil and full sunlight.
They are not frost tender and can survive cold winters even though they may look wilted during those months.
These plants have long, strappy green leaves that can grow quite long (4 to 8 feet long). They are fairly fast growers and have woody stems. There are several different varieties that you can find:
Dracaena Sanderiana – This is the typical red variety with red stripes. The edges of the leaves may or may not be a yellowish color. It grows fairly well and does well indoors, but it grows rather slowly. It grows tall rather than wide.
Cordyline Red Star – This is a newer variety that has a more compact growth habit and a red stripe down the center of each leaf. It grows wider than it does tall.
Cordyline Rubra – This one is very similar to the regular cordyline except that it has reddish stripes on its leaves and the edges are a purplish color. Both of these varieties tend to grow taller than wide.
Red Star Plant Care
The red star dracaena is pretty easy to grow and can tolerate a wide range of conditions. It prefers bright light or very bright light (such as found with direct sunlight). You can still grow it if you do not have a lot of sun, as long as you are careful to water it regularly and never let it get too dry. Too little water will cause the leaves to wilt and collapse.
The plants can grow up to 6 feet tall so you may want to stake them as they get taller. They do not like their roots to be root bound so you will need to repot them every few years. You can fertilize them anytime during the year, but spring and summer are best.
Red Star are hardy plants that only get damaged by extreme temperatures, frozen roots or lack of water. They are prone to mealy bugs and fungal infections. Spider mites can be a problem, but are not as severe as with some other houseplants.
These plants can be grown from both seeds and cuttings. Cuttings will grow faster, but it is a little harder to get the new plant to take root. You can also get suckers, which are shoots that grow from the main trunk of the plant. These can be trimmed off and potted up individually.
You can also take leaves off the plant and pot them up as well, but they grow slower than cuttings.
Repot your red star dracaena anytime it needs it. A good indicator is if you see roots coming out the bottom of the pot or if you see roots coming out from underneath the plant itself. You should only have to repot every other year or even less often.
Red Star dracaena also can be propagated from leaf cuttings. Cut a leaf off, let it callous over for a day and plant it in some moist potting soil. It should start growing roots pretty quickly.
As with most houseplants, red stars like high humidity but are tolerant of dry air. Mist them with water frequently to help keep the air humidity up. Do not allow the leaves to stay wet as that can cause problems too.
Red Star care is pretty easy and they are very tolerant of common mistakes. Just don’t forget to water them every couple of days unless the pot is labeled as requiring less water.
These plants have narrower and more pointed leaves than the red star. They do not tolerate as much sun and will get sunburned if left in direct sunlight. They are also prone to spider mites and fungal infections.
These plants can grow up to 8 feet, but are often trimmed to keep them shorter.
These plants propagate the same way as the red star and require the same care.
Red and Green Dracena
These plants have a striped pattern of green with red stripes running through the leaves. The ridges are more prominent than on the other two types of dracaenas.
They grow 2 to 3 feet wide and tall and can get even wider if not kept trimmed or in smaller containers.
These plants can be grown from seed, but are more often propagated by cutting the ripened stems from the adult plant. These do not last long once removed from the mother plant, so it’s best to do it right away. Let the cut end dry for a day before attaching it to moist soil or it may not take root right away.
Red and green dracaenas like the same care as the other types.
Sources & references used in this article:
Development of new foliage plant cultivars by J Chen, RJ Henny, DB McConnell – Trends in new crops and new uses …, 2002 – Citeseer
A native Hawaiian garden: how to grow and care for island plants by DL Baldwin – 2010 – Timber Press
The Complete Guide to Growing Windowsill Plants: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply by B Pleasant – 2005 – Storey Publishing
Ornamental tropical shrubs by JL Culliney, BP Koebele – 1999 – books.google.com
Growing indoor plants with success by BC Wolverton – 2020 – Spring